I love Jim Jarmusch’s work, and Only Lovers Left Alive definitely didn’t disappoint. The main characters of the movie are Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton), two very old vampires who are trying to make it in the 21st century. The pair are married, but are living separately when the movie begins – Adam in Detroit and Eve in Tangiers. These two characters are nicely juxtaposed. Adam is dark, brooding, and everything around him is portrayed as such from his hair and clothes to the old, dilapidated home he inhabits. Eve is light, positive, and everything around her reflects this from her semi-dreaded white-blonde hair and light tan suede pants and jacket, to her home’s New Age decor. Adam has an obsession with music and instruments. He is an elusive musician whose compositions appear on the down low, and who has worked with other artists over the years – Schubert, for example. Eve has the skill of knowing things through touch. She can read a book by running her fingers over the pages, or touch a guitar and tell how old it is and everything about it. She can read people this way, too. Added to the mix of these two main characters is an elderly vampire who is no other than Kit Marlowe (John Hurt), writer of the plays attributed to Shakespeare, and supplier of Eve’s blood diet in Tangiers. Blood supply is important to these two, and Adam gets his through an arrangement with a local hospital. This is a humorous situation, since he has not quite adapted to the new century yet, and he shows up to retrieve his blood in scrubs, operating mask, sunglasses, and sporting the name tag: Dr. Faust.
The overall plot of the movie is the relationship between Adam and Eve, which is tested by the appearance of Eve’s sister, Ava, a younger vampire who’s into partying and boys. Ava has a history of making life impossible and Adam is not a fan. She once again causes problems with her appearance, sending Adam and Eve on the run, and ultimately putting them in the position of having to start over again on their own. However, it is unlikely that this duo is going to have any problem getting on with things – a better pair I’ve never seen.
Jarmusch always has the best quirky things in his films! Some of my favorites in this one were
- The many references to Tesla accompanied by Adam’s skill in creating machines: a car engine that doesn’t require gas, and lighting the house using a generator that pulls electricity from the atmosphere.
- The cool, grungy, hipness with which the underground scene is depicted. Adam and Eve always wear sunglasses at night. Leather, mussed hair, and a decadence reflected in décor and lifestyle are everywhere. For these vampires, Type O- is like a drug, and when they drink they do so with the savoring of a heroin addict shooting up.
- Ian, played by Anton Yelchin, who is Adam’s go-to human and brings him rare and beautiful instruments or procures any odd item that Adam might want. Ian has a great personality in that kind of eager, young star-seeking way.
- Adam’s endless supply of cash. He has lots of rubber banded wads of cash that he will just pull out of a pocket, seemingly with no regard for how much he is handing out.
- Eve’s tons and tons of books. There are stacks and piles, and scenes of her falling asleep in the middle of them. If I was a vampire, my house would look like this.
- The settings of both Detroit and Tangiers. Dark, destitute, decrepit, cityscapes. Detroit is bare of people for the most part, while Tangiers is home to the drug scene, winding alleys, stone staircases, and cafes that appear in the middle of nowhere.
- The music. Adam’s music is haunting and dark, beautiful. I would definitely listen to this. The music by the girl in Tangiers, though is an unbelievably cool touch. Through her you can see Adam glimpsing the precursor for a new start to his compositions, a new turn to take, a twist that will fit with this change of locale.
- The ending scene.
Whether you are a Jarmusch fan, a vampire fan, or just love Hiddleston and Swinton, you have to watch this movie! Go get it now!